Angus digs deep to book last four date with Chris Fuller
By MICHAEL CATLING – Squash Mad Reporter
English qualifier Angus Gillams fought back from the brink of defeat to shock third seed Patrick Miescher in a five-game epic and advance into the semi-finals of the Madeira International Open in Canico, Portugal.
The 18-year-old, who scalped Scottish seventh seed Jonathan Geekie just 24 hours earlier, was forced to save two match balls in a ferocious fifth game tie-break before securing a 6-11 6-11 11-7 11-4 14-12 victory in 92 minutes at the PSA Challenger 5 event.
But while Gillams celebrated his maiden appearance in a PSA semi-final, Miescher was left cradling his head in his hands after squandering a two game lead against a player ranked 95 places below him in the world rankings.
A blood stoppage for the Swiss number four early in the third game shifted the momentum in Gillams’ favour as the left-hander reeled off the next five points en route to halving the arrears.
A one-sided fourth game took the contest into a decider, before Miescher recovered from a 6-3 and 9-7 deficit in the fifth to move within a point of victory at 10-9.
Gillams, though, refused to give in and capitalised on an unforced error from Miescher to force a tie-break.
The world number 154 then failed to convert a second match ball at 11-10, before Gillams repeated the favour two points later to draw the scores level at 12 apiece.
However, the Hertfordshire-based teenager remained imperturbable and after greeting his second match ball with a fist pump, he benefitted from a stroke decision to guarantee an English finalist at the Onda Revital Club.
“He (Miescher) is a very good player and the fifth could have gone either way really,” admitted an exhausted Gillams afterwards.
“I struggled with my movement and confidence in the first two games because the court was so slippery. But once I managed to forget about the court, I started playing my best squash from the second game onwards so I was really happy with the mental side of my performance.”
The world number 249 is rewarded with a last four tie against second seed Chris Fuller, after the 23-year-old breezed past fifth seed Steven London in 38 minutes.
Fuller, who despatched George Parker in a highly-charged encounter in the first round, wasted little time in recording an impressive 11-4 11-5 11-3 victory to remain on course for only his second PSA Tour title.
In the top half of the draw, world number 80 Declan James overcame a sluggish start and a 10-7 deficit in the fourth game to battle into the semi-finals 8-11 11-9 11-6 12-10 at the expense of training partner and sixth seed Mark Fuller.
Fuller, who needed just 29 minutes to beat Spanish wildcard Iker Pajares Bernabeu in the preceding round, capitalised on seven unforced errors from the top seed in the opening game to take the early initiative.
The second game appeared to be following a similar pattern until two successive tins from Fuller gave James the impetus to overturn a 5-2 deficit and level the scores at one-apiece.
A one-sided third game moved James within a game of victory, before Fuller regained the ascendancy to amass three game balls in the fourth.
But with the spectators preparing for a fifth game, James pegged the 29-year-old back to force a tie-break and duly secured the win in 65 minutes after Fuller mishit a crosscourt backhand drop into the tin.
The 21-year-old from Nottingham will now meet world number 178 Lukas Burkhart for a place in the final, after the fourth seed kept Swiss hopes alive with a four game success over English qualifier Joe Green.
Green, who only turned professional earlier this year, briefly threatened a second successive upset in as many days after edging a first game tie-break 13-11.
But with the 18-year-old leading 6-5 in the following game, Burkhart won 17 of the next 20 points to complete a remarkable turnaround and claim the second and third games.
Green responded valiantly in an attempt to force a decider but after failing to convert a game ball at 10-9, Burkhart secured the win with his second match ball to reach only his second PSA semi-final since turning professional in 2009.
 Declan James (ENG) v  Lukas Burkhart (SUI)
[Q] Angus Gillams (ENG) v  Chris Fuller (ENG)
 Declan James (ENG) bt  Mark Fuller (ENG) 8-11 11-9 11-6 12-10 (65m)
 Lukas Burkhart (SUI) bt [Q] Joe Green (ENG) 11-13 11-6 11-4 13-11 (59m)
[Q] Angus Gillams (ENG) bt  Patrick Miescher (SUI) 6-11 6-11 11-7 11-4 14-12 (92m)
 Chris Fuller (ENG) bt  Steven London (ENG) 11-4 11-5 11-3 (38m)Insert introduction here (switch to HTML)